I Thought He Came With You is Robert Ellison’s blog about software, marketing, politics, photography and time lapse.

Book reviews for January 2019

Insurrecto by Gina Apostol

Insurrecto by Gina Apostol

3/5

 

ITHCWY Newsletter for January 2019

A Project Fi display ad on an article about Google's insane targeting prowess

The Echo Clock has one job, and it's not great at it.

I made an animation of maximum temperature anomalies by decade from the 1850s to the 2010s.

Is 2019 the year that Trump gets impeached? I wrote to my representative. Why not do the same?

Some surfing dolphins.

Farhad Manjoo calls for open borders in the New York Times for many of the same reasons I had back in 2015, before this was less unpopular ;)

Previously:

China Camp State Park

View from China Camp State Park

China Camp State Park

New Year's resolution: hike more again.

This is a combined hike of Back Ranch Meadows and Turtleback Point loop at China Camp State Park (around 2.7 miles total). Have never been to China Camp before, it's a beautiful park forty minutes north of San Francisco with plenty of interesting looking trails so will be back again soon.

(Hikes was my first blog, now folded into ITHCWY. Here's an old post about the blog. Since the last update I've ditched My Tracks because it got terrible and switched to Gaia GPS. I also moved from BlogEngine.net to my own custom blogging platform which is mostly better but hasn't worked well for my hike posts. I had to manually upload any KML files and also manually scrape out the coordinates for the start of the hike. Today I've automated this for my post by email system - I just need to attach a KML file to the email and it gets automatically uploaded to the blog and the start point is used to link to Google Maps, geocode the post and include an embedded map. Pretty cool. Hopefully this will inspire me to hike more and post more hikes as well.)

Hike starts at: 38.00733, -122.490322. View in Google Earth.

Newsletter Improvements

It turns out I'm not great at getting a monthly newsletter out. Starting with the January 2019 newsletter I've put in place a new system - I'm storing summaries of new articles when I write them and also collecting a few links that might be of interest to ITHCWY readers. These should be sent out automatically on the first of the month so I should only skip the newsletter if nothing happened. Apologies in advance if there are any teething issues with the new format.

Surfing Dolphins

Dolphins off Ocean Beach

A pair of dolphins enjoying high surf off Ocean Beach, San Francisco

(Recent Photos)

Open letter to Nancy Pelosi

Sent to Speaker Pelosi today:

As an American, constituent and supporter I am writing to ask you to investigate President Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors and to pass articles of impeachment in the House.

You have said that impeachment must to be bipartisan. That would certainly need to be the end result in order for the effort to succeed. It does not make sense as a precondition for starting the process, especially if as you also said impeachment should not be started or avoided for a political reason.

You have also said that impeachment must wait for the completion of the Special Counsel investigation. Any crimes revealed by the investigation would be icing on the cake. By imposing this condition you are making the case that obstruction of justice by the President is normal, that violations of campaign finance law are minor and that using the office for personal enrichment is only to be expected. The President deserves to be tried in the Senate for these charges. The future of our democracy depends on us not accepting this behavior.

Disagreements on policy and personality should be resolved by the electorate. High crimes and misdemeanors are your job. Please do it.

Global Temperature Anomalies Animation, 1850 to 2018

Global temperature maximum anomaly from Jan 2010 to Nov 2018

I made this animation to visualize climate change based on the HadCRUT 4 data (specifically the ensemble median gridded data) from the Met Office Hadley Centre.

HadCRUT 4 provides temperature anomalies in a five degree grid by month and year from January 1850 to November 2018 (as of this post). Anomaly here means deviation from the 1961-1990 average.

In the animation I wanted to capture the full timespan of the data but also show long term trends. Each frame is a month of data and each five degree grid of longitude and latitude is colored based on the maximum cumulative anomaly (positive or negative) for each decade. The range for color is 0 to +/- 20.85 degrees, red for warmer and blue for cooler. This means there is a reset at the start of each decade, the first few years are mostly random noise but by the end of each decade you're seeing the range of extremes.

Spoiler alert - you can spot something happening in the last three decades.

As well as the change in temperature it's interesting to watch the increase in global coverage over time. It's surprising that even the most recent years have no readings for Antarctica. Here's a paper (PDF) discussing the impact of the missing data. The HadCRUT 4 FAQ has more detail on how the temperature anomalies were assembled.

(Previously)

Amazon Alexa Echo Wall Clock Review

Alexa Echo Wall Clock

It has one job and it's not great at it.

I've been itching to replace my kitchen clock. I stupidly bought a self-setting atomic clock and the instructions said (this was a few years ago so I'm paraphrasing) 'Install as high up as possible on a southern facing exterior wall - ignoring these instructions may interfere with reception of the time signal.' Of course when used in my kitchen it has no idea what the time is. Due to the fancy mechanism it's extremely painful to set the time manually - you push a tiny button and try to stay awake while the hands move round and ultimately overshoot. Repeat.

It really should be illegal to sell things that tell you the time without some self-setting mechanism that works. Would it be hard to encode this in the electricity mains supply for instance? Or acquire via wifi or bluetooth? Every time I get in my car it connects to my phone but the car clock is clearly some cheap crystal that drifts daily and has no idea about daylight savings.

So the Echo Wall Clock is appealing because it should keep the right time without effort in addition to it's main role - visualizing Alexa timers. It's a stripped down implementation of the smart Glance clock but $170 cheaper at $30. It looks like most of those savings went to finding the cheapest possible plastic body. The Echo Clock also skips a face plate, which is a risk as if you touch the hands it will die.

Pairing is easy (via bluetooth) and it does manage to keep the right time. It's a decent if unattractive clock.

The timer function has taken the easy way out. If you set a five minute timer it lights up the minute marks from 12 up and then counts down. On a clock that knows what the current time is. This means that if you want to figure out when something is ready you're going to have to think. You need to look at the lit segments to see how long is left on the timer, and then add this on to the current position of the minute hand. I don't think anyone is buying a $30 timer visualizer to do minute-math. It would be a much better device if it just added the timer onto the current location of the minute hand, which is so obvious that this is what I expected to happen the first time I used it.

Overall it's cheap, cheap looking and flawed. But still a huge improvement on my kitchen's atomic age.

Book reviews for December 2018

The Late Show (Renée Ballard, #1; Harry Bosch Universe, #29) by Michael Connelly

The Late Show (Renée Ballard, #1; Harry Bosch Universe, #29) by Michael Connelly

4/5

 

The Wandering Earth by Liu Cixin

The Wandering Earth by Liu Cixin

5/5

 

The Labyrinth Index (Laundry Files, #9) by Charles Stross

The Labyrinth Index (Laundry Files, #9) by Charles Stross

4/5

 

Hummingbird 2

Hummingbird

A hummingbird at the Marine Cemetery in the Presidio.

(Previously)

(Recent Photos)